Kano-based fiery politician, Junaid Mohammed, has called on the President, Muhammadu Buhari, to look beyond the United States, for ways out of the country’s present economic recession.
This is even as he said that if the Igbo continued with their agitation, a democratic means could be devised for them to vote and decide whether they want to go or remain in Nigeria. He was, however, quick to add that those who think that breaking up Nigeria, was a universal remedy to all its problems, were deceiving themselves.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Saturday Sun, Mohammed, who cannot understand why the US would be prescribing what it never applied to its economy, when it faced economic challenge, similar to that of Nigeria, about eight years ago, further said: “Ironically, when the US ran into economic crisis in 2008, they did not do what they are now advising us to do. They say, we must control our budget, rein in on our spending and expenditure, bla, bla. But, when they were in economic crisis, instead of reducing government spending, they increased their own spending. They also maintained a high level of their currency. So, what makes you think that we must listen to those advising us to do what they never did, when they faced similar challenge in the past? They never did what they are asking us to do.”
You once advised President Buhari, at the inception of his administration in 2015, that if Igbo want to go, they should be allowed to go. Do you still hold the same view?
Well, I don’t know if you understood the context in which I said the Igbo should be allowed to go, if they want to go. First, there is no way the Federal Government can allow any section of the country to go, without going through another civil war. And another civil war is an open invitation to anarchy and violence. I am not a violent man, I don’t believe in violence. But yes, if they continue with their agitation, a democratic way can be devised, so that they can vote, to decide whether they should be allowed to go, or to remain.
However, and most unfortunately too, Igbo have not articulated what they want. You cannot start talking for people who do not know exactly what they want. What will you be preparing for? And mark you, those who imagine that breaking up Nigeria will be a panacea to all the problems we have, are deluding themselves. I say so because, examples abound all over the world. Look at Southern Sudan experience, America insisted that the country must be split in two, it has since been done, but is there peace in Southern Sudan today? The South is already enmeshed in a bloody civil war; nobody knows how it will end, when it will end. I don’t believe Igbo would want to go through another civil war, after the first disaster of 1967-1970. And I believe they are entitled to every right and everything an average Nigerian is entitled to. And there is no evidence; they can claim to say they have been deprived.
But they are complaining of being marginalized under the present administration?
It is not correct. Tell me, who is not marginalized under this administration? Anyway, the two most powerful individuals running the country’s economy today, rightly or wrongly, are Igbo. The Minister of Budget and National Planning is an Igbo man, the Adviser on Budget is an Igbo man, and the CBN governor is an Igbo man. So, only the Minister of Finance is not Igbo. So, if they think they can continue to make irresponsible demand from the national patrimony, of course, let them go ahead. At some point, all things must come to a certain end. And I don’t lose sleep over certain demands made by some people.
One of the arguments they are making is that, in terms of equitable distribution of resources and political offices, they have not been fairly treated.
Are you also saying they have no case in that regard?
Well, first and foremost, they should tell us, who has been favoured, vis-à-vis the positions they claim? Two, was it a planned subterfuge by the government of the day to deny them certain positions or was it as a result of certain things that have happened in the past, when Igbo occupied those positions, which is not as a result of anybody’s planning? For example, after General Aguiyi Ironsi, who was implicated in the coup that brought him to power, the next senior Igbo man we had was (Gen Azubuike) Ihejirika, as the Chief of Army Staff. He turned out to be a big disaster, as he turned out to be a dangerous tribalist. What makes them think that we must now give them that position again, simply because they are now clamouring for it? That is number one. Number two, we had a former governor of the Central Bank, his name was Paul Oguma, and he was a disaster. We now have another Igbo man, Godwin Emefiele, who has turned out to be another disaster. So, if you allow me, I can go on and on.
(Cuts in) But we had another Igbo man, as CBN governor, Prof. Charles Soludo, who most Nigerians believe performed creditably well in office.
Soludo is only good at noisemaking; I don’t think he was such a brilliant governor of the CBN.
And talking about the economy, how do you think Nigeria can get out of its present economic challenge?
Let me be honest with you. I am ideological. I don’t believe in capitalism. But the government must look at its worldview critically. For instance, what do you stand for? Do you believe that the economy should be run in such a way that only the few are rich, with the overwhelming majority being poor? Do you believe that we should devise our own ways of running the economy or just taking everything the World Bank says, and other capitalist countries? Shouldn’t our economy be run to serve our own national interest alone?
Ironically, when the US ran into economic crisis in 2008, they did not do what they are now advising us to do. They say we must control our budget, rein in on our spending and expenditure, bla, bla. But when they were in economic crisis, instead of reducing government spending, they increased their own spending. They also maintained a high level of their currency. So what makes you think that we must listen to those advising us to do what they never did when they faced similar challenge in the past? They never did what they are asking us to do.
So what is the way out?
I think we should link up with our trading partners, those whom we share something in common with, not only the American government. I know that like Nigeria, America was a former British colony; I know we share certain things in common with America, but that does not necessarily mean we should be their slaves. And we have known the economic history of the country, over the last 200 years ago or so. The problem we had over the years, including the disaster that is unfolding under Buhari, is caused by our blind support for and obsessive following of capitalist ideas. And if we continue with that, we are going to have more problems. It is time to look at our economy, taking into cognizance our peculiar realities, and come up with ideas and policies that will suit our peculiar situation, and then decide what we want to do and how we want to go about it.
Finally, APC crisis appears to be assuming a North and South dichotomy, is it healthy for our polity?
I think it is unfortunate, that tribalism has become the easiest nest we fall into, each time we find ourselves in political crisis. It shows that we have lousy elite and political class that cannot think for themselves. It is very unfortunate. Whatever happens, I believe what is happening today has been to the benefit of those who followed Tinubu into the merger. If they feel they have not gotten what they believe they should have, they should tell us who in the north has benefitted? The position of the APC in most of the so-called northern States is very pathetic. Buhari has spent more time, being in the service of the South-West, than he has been to the northern states. Whatever is happening now, one thing is clear, Oyegun, is not a northerner, he doesn’t come from the north. I don’t believe what Buhari has been doing has been to the pleasure of John Oyegun.
However, I am absolutely sad at the happenings. The truth remains that we cannot build this country without being sincere to ourselves. Most of those in the Buhari government today from the South-West are there because Tinubu introduced them to Buhari. Tinubu took the position he took in 2015 because he knew it was in the best interest of the country. And he has not come out to say he made a mistake.